Food and Wine 101: Whites

by Taryn Lachter

Some people are just a "red drinker" or just a "white drinker" but we love all wine children equally.

It’s important to love the white wines for who they are and to bring out their best qualities while you enjoy them.

So let’s talk about the guidelines for pairing white wines with food.

Some people are just a “red drinker” or just a “white drinker” but we love all wine children equally. It’s important to love the white wines for who they are and to bring out their best qualities while you enjoy them. So let’s talk about the guidelines for pairing white wines with food.

White wine is not a friend to red meat. Pair it with white meat and fish.

We don’t say this to be mean but a white wine is just not a match for red meat, as a general rule. The gamey, earthy, fatty natures of red meat require an acidity and tannic quality that white wines do not possess – it’s not their fault. However, fish is greatly complemented by a robust white, as is poultry like duck or fish. Remember, we don’t want one to overpower the other, everyone gets their time to shine. 

Sweet whites are great for spicy meals.

When matching high levels of heat and spice, you want flavors that will help tamper it down but not erase it completely. Conversely, you don’t want a wine that will make the heat even sharper or more bitter, which is why a sweeter wine is best. Think late harvest Riesling or a Gruner Veltliner to accommodate that heat without reducing the flavors.

Think crisp and dry for pairing with most vegetables.

Vegetables, by nature, are going to give you herbal, floral, and earthy notes, so you want your wine to match them. They also aren’t the most robust in aggressive flavors so you want the wine to be subtle but complementary. This is when the middle ground of light to full bodied is your home – Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, steel-aged Chardonnay – these will all be great pals to your roasted veggies.

Creamy foods go best with a more acidic wine.

We’re mostly referring to cheese here but this is also applicable to dishes with a lot of dairy. A creamy goat cheese or melty brie will want something acidic to cut through the fat, not add to it. It’ll almost be like a palate cleanser with each bite so that you get that delightful “first bite” over and over again of your favorite cheese. Looking at you, Chenin Blanc.

Fragrant herbs are besties with light white wines.

Consider the herbs you like to keep in their whole form – basil, dill, mint – these are what you’re really pairing with the wine. So you want something that will complement them well but they’re quite subtle so you don’t want to overwhelm the leafy little herbs. Riesling and Pinot Grigio are friends here. They’re light and fruity but gentle and delicious.

As with all pairings, anyone in your local wine shop can help you pair specifically to the dish you’re making. Just walk on in and ask for the best recommendations!



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